How to Cook Shrimp
Scrumptious and incredibly versatile shrimp make a delightful addition to so many dishes. We'll key you in on everything you need to know about how to cook shrimp, from cooking on the stove to grilling, and share our tips for how long to cook shrimp. Plus, we'll share a few of our favorite shrimp recipes, including shrimp scampi and shrimp tacos.
Shrimp make their way into all kinds of cuisine, including enticing appetizers and hearty pasta dishes, and cooking them is so much easier than you think. Pick your favorite shrimp recipe and get cooking with the tips that follow. You can also use the instructions below to cook frozen shrimp—just make sure you also follow our instructions for thawing frozen shrimp before you start cooking.
How to Choose Good Shrimp
Use these pointers when purchasing shrimp:
- Purchase 1-1/2 pounds of raw shrimp for each pound of shelled shrimp you need.
- The price of shrimp usually depends on the size of the shrimp you are purchasing. The bigger the shrimp, the higher the price and the fewer per pound.
- Look for firm, juicy shrimp with translucent, moist shells and without black spots (unless you are purchasing black tiger shrimp).
- Be sure the shrimp have a fresh, sealike scent. An ammonia odor indicates spoilage.
- Avoid shrimp with yellowish shells or dry spots, which could indicate freezer burn.
- The number of shrimp per pound increases as their size decreases. For instance, 16/20 shrimp are considered extra-large, meaning there are 16 to 20 shrimp per pound. With medium shrimp, you'll get 41 to 50 shrimp per pound.
Fresh or Frozen?
Because shrimp are bought and sold in large quantities, most of the shrimp available in U.S. supermarkets have been previously frozen. Shrimp freeze remarkably well. If the shrimp you purchase are frozen, place them in a sealed container in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. To speed up the thawing process, place the shrimp in a colander under cold running water for about 2 minutes. To retain their succulent texture, avoid thawing shrimp in warm water or at room temperature. When you're learning how to cook frozen shrimp, you can follow the same instructions below for grilling, boiling, and skillet-cooking as long as you thaw them before cooking.
How to Store Fresh Shrimp
Fill a large bowl about half full with ice. Nestle the shrimp into the ice, making sure the shrimp are not too close to the bottom of the bowl where melted water will accumulate. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to use, draining the water and adding more ice as needed.
How to Peel & Devein Shrimp
Step 1: How to Peel Shrimp
Most shrimp recipes call for peeled shrimp. Here's how to do it:
- Open the shell lengthwise down the body on its belly side (the inside curve).
- Starting at the head end, peel back the shell. Gently pull on the tail to remove it or, if you prefer, leave the tail intact.
Step 2: Cut a Slit Down the Backside of the Shrimp
Use a sharp knife to make a shallow slit along the back of the shrimp from the head to the tail end.
Step 3: How to Devein Shrimp
- Using the tip of your knife, locate the vein.
- Place the tip of your knife under the vein and lift it out.
- Rinse the shrimp under cold water.
Tip: The vein is actually the intestinal tract and can impart an unpleasant taste if left in the shrimp.
How to Cook Shrimp
There are a few different methods for cooking shrimp, and each of them will get your seafood on the table in a flash. Follow these instructions for boiling shrimp:
- For 1 pound of shrimp, in a 3-quart saucepan bring 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt to boiling.
- Add shrimp to the boiling water.
- Cook, uncovered, 1 to 3 minutes or until shrimp are pink and opaque, stirring occasionally.
- Drain and rinse shrimp in a colander under cold running water. If desired, chill shrimp.
How to Grill Shrimp
A skewer of grilled shrimp is one of our favorite summertime cookout treats. Season as desired, and follow these instructions for grilling shrimp:
- To direct-grill shrimp, thread them onto skewers to make kabobs.
- Over medium coals, grill extra-large shrimp (20 per pound) for 6 to 8 minutes or jumbo shrimp (12 to 15 per pound) for 10 to 12 minutes, or until opaque.
- Check for a pink color on the outside. Cut into a skewered shrimp to make sure the flesh is opaque throughout.
How to Cook Shrimp on the Stove
Cooking shrimp in a skillet is a quick way to add it to any recipe—you can even make simple sauteed shrimp its own entree! If you're wondering how long to cook shrimp on the stove, 3 to 4 minutes is a good guideline, but keep a close eye on your shrimp to keep them from overcooking. Just follow these instructions for how to cook raw shrimp on the stove:
- In a nonstick skillet heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil or butter over medium-high heat.
- Add shrimp; cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes or until opaque, or turn each shrimp halfway through the cook time.
- Remove shrimp from the skillet.
Making Baked Shrimp
How long do you cook shrimp in the oven? It often depends on the recipe. Baking times for shrimp can also vary if the shrimp are fresh or frozen, or if you're baking them in a sauce or with rice. Use the recipes below as a guide, but be sure to follow the baking instructions for whichever recipe you are using:
Our Favorite Shrimp Recipes for You to Try
Whether you're in the mood to grill or cook on the stove, we have shrimp recipes for you to test your new skills on! One glance at these recipes, and you'll be adding shrimp to your shopping list.